WATCH: CHASE OR FADE – COURSE HISTORY AT THE MASTERS
From Augusta, Georgia, The Masters tees off Thursday morning in a ritual that is the true start of spring for many of us. The first major of the year is a great time to see what veterans are on top of their game and which youngsters might be able to rise up to compete with them. Here are a few names to consider at each pricing tier to get you started with lineup building.
UPDATE: Dustin Johnson (back) took a serious fall in his Augusta Rental home and is now QUESTIONABLE to compete at the Masters.
Dustin Johnson ($11,300) – I suppose it is strictly by virtue of the lack of a green jacket that he is not the top-priced option on the board, but no matter how good Spieth has been at Augusta, it doesn’t seem right that DJ costs less right now. He rested after his win at the Match Play Championship, so he should be relaxed and focused for the year’s first major. He has three straight wins, he has been outside the top-6 only once in 2017 and he is first in every major scoring statistic on the PGA Tour right now. There is no safer selection in my opinion and no one with more upside if you can afford him.
Rory McIlroy ($10,600) – He will be looking to capture the only major that has eluded him so far in his career, despite some very solid showings over the past few iterations. He has been inside the top-10 in each of the last three years, including a -12 he shot in 2015 only to fall to Spieth’s dominating -18. He finished T10 here last year despite a Saturday round of 77, and that has been the story for many of his appearances here: one bad stretch that derails his title hopes. He has played plenty of great golf on this course in the past and just needs to string together four solid rounds this week to compete for the win.
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,900) – He has finished inside the top-10 here each of the last two years, much like DJ, and he has only one round over par and a low round of 66 over that span. That shows a level of comfort with the challenges you face here that most players never attain, and he will be looking to improve on his T7 performance for last season to rejuvenate a 2017 season that has seemed to flounder somewhat since an auspicious beginning. His recent poor performances could keep ownership down, making him an excellent GPP selection.
Adam Scott ($8,800) – He entered the Shell Houston Open with the 15th best scoring average on tour, taking advantage of his distance off the tee and solid iron game and actually converting the chances he was giving himself into birdies (15th in Birdie or Better %). He has been off since the WGC – Mexico Championship, which was his only finish outside the top-15 so far this season, and he is going to be looking to pick up where he left off this weekend in what will be his 16th appearance at Augusta (four times in the top-10).
Jon Rahm ($8,600) – Since he joined the tour last year he has a Birdie or Better over 25, putting him in the company of players like Spieth and DJ, and that is exactly where he’s found himself on the leaderboard as well. Since his win at the Farmers Insurance Open in January, he has gone T16, T5, T3 and then followed that up with a loss in the finals of the Match Play Championship to Dustin Johnson, a match in which he battled to the very end.
Brandt Snedeker ($8,000) – With four top-20 finishes at Augusta since 2011, and just one missed cut, Snedeker is someone who seems to at least have the ability to make some of the shots necessary to score at Augusta National. He has four top-15 finishes in seven 2017 appearances thus far and is currently 22nd on tour in Birdie Average, showing that if he is on his game he has the potential to be a very useful fantasy asset.
Thomas Pieters ($7,700) – In his last four appearances, he has two missed cuts and two top-fives, so clearly there is plenty of volatility in this pick. This is his first appearance at Augusta, but if he can make the cut, he has the potential to really help your fantasy squad. In his two great performances of late, at the Genesis Open and the WGC – Mexico Championship, he had a low round of 63, totaled seven rounds under par, and racked up 40 birdies against just 15 holes over par for a 103.5 fantasy scoring average.
Tyrrell Hatton ($7,600) – If it wasn’t for the dominance of DJ and the rise of Rahm, I think we’d be hearing a lot more about the kind of hot streak Hatton is on right now, with five straight top-15 performances worldwide. He has played 13 of his last 15 rounds under par, and he is top-15 in Strokes Gained: Putting (1st), Approach the Green (6th), and Off the Tee (14th).
Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($7,200) – He has been a cut-making machine for more than a year now, no matter where he is playing. His upside has been somewhat limited when faced with the best fields, but all that tells me is that the draw of the big names at the top of the leaderboard doesn’t impact the way he plays the game. If it’s a course he can play to -1, he is going to play it to -1 no matter what else is going on around him, making him, for me, a very solid cash game option this weekend despite this being his first appearance at the Masters.
Adam Hadwin ($6,900) – He has made the cut in every tournament he has entered this season and is coming into this weekend playing his best golf yet, on the heels of a win at the Valspar Championship that he followed up with a sixth-place finish at Arnold Palmer Invitational. He has played 10 straight rounds under par, and he is doing it in multiple ways. Not only is he currently 29th in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, demonstrating the quality of his iron play, those approaches are impacting his results in a big way, as he is also first in One-Putt Percentage and, as a result, eighth in Overall Putting Average.
Kevin Kisner ($6,900) – He made his first appearance here last year and shot 77-72-76-72. The two even-par rounds are a reason for some optimism on his part heading into his second appearance, especially with the way he’s playing this year leading up to this weekend. He has made all six of his cuts and finished inside the top-25 five times (four of those T11 or better). He is sitting eighth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and 7th in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, which takes the kind of consistent shot-making you need to thrive on this course.
Chris Wood ($6,500) – This is obviously a big risk-reward play if you’re looking to stock up on the big guns, but Wood could prove to be a serviceable addition at the bottom of your roster. He managed to make the cut here last year before bottoming out on Sunday with a 79, but when he is at his best he does a great job of avoiding mistakes, which can be enough on this course to at least keep you playing through the weekend.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.